Ending the Stigma & Suicide Prevention

September 10, 2020

Thursday, September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. This day falls under Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which is the entire month of September. During this month, mental health advocates work to spread awareness of suicide, educate people on the topic and provide suicide prevention resources for those struggling with suicidal thoughts or contemplating suicide.

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. Although thousands of people a year die from suicide and many people are affected by these tragic events, it is still not talked about enough. However, together we can all work to end the stigma around suicide and help with suicide prevention.

What is Stigma?

Why isn’t suicide talked about more in our society? It’s because of the stigma around mental health. Verywell Mind defines stigma as, “negative attitudes or discrimination against someone based on a distinguishing characteristic.” There are a lot of different social stigmas that exist. The stigma surrounding mental illness is one of them. Stigmas about mental health often include prejudiced attitudes toward mental illness. They can include negative stereotypes or harmful language, like claiming someone is “crazy” or that they should “try harder” or “snap out of it.” People can also have their own self-perceived stigmas about their mental health conditions, which they internalize and contribute to feelings of shame and self-doubt.

Ending the Stigma

Stigmas can be extremely damaging. For someone who is struggling with a mental health condition, stigmas can worsen their psychological well-being and make them more reluctant to seek help. However, as a society, we can all do our part to end stigmas. The easiest way to do so is by having open conversations about mental health. One in four Americans has a mental health condition of some kind. We can all do our part in normalizing mental health conditions by speaking more about them. Educating ourselves about mental health and talking about it will ultimately help to end the stigma and prevent suicides.

How to Help Prevent Suicide

There are many ways that people can contribute to suicide prevention. The Depression Project, lays out a hierarchy of steps people can take, ranging from early prevention to late prevention. With early prevention, there are simple actions people can do: providing education on mental health, being kind to others, valuing mental health over productivity, and accepting depression as a real illness with symptoms. Validating other people’s feelings and not shaming them can also play a major role in preventing suicides.

If you know someone close to you who is struggling with their mental health, there are other preventative measures you can take. Within the area of late prevention, you can check in on people to remind them that they are supported and not alone, encourage people to reach out when they are feeling suicidal and provide crisis lines to people who may need them.

Take the Next Step

Together, we can end the stigma around mental health and suicide. The first step for ending the stigma is recognizing that a stigma exists and is surrounding these issues. By putting an end to the harmful conversations and outlooks towards those who are struggling, we can focus more on providing education and resources that can save someone’s life. If you or someone you know would like to start therapy, you can request an appointment today. Oregon Counseling’s therapists specialize in depression, anxiety, trauma and other mental health services.

Additional Resources & Articles

Call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255).

Access the crisis text line by texting TALK to 741-741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Resources Center

National Institute on Mental Health

How to Talk About Suicide

Supporting Someone Who is Suffering

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